By: Salvatore Sesti
Game 1: Recap
The first match of the tournament featured the marquee match-up of two strong teams Santa Fe Wanderers an established force in the Kansas City area with a history of success in tournaments and league cups against Sunflower State FC the new kids on the block taking the region by storm with win after win against some impressive opponents.
The game started off disjointed, both teams showing some nervous energy. There were are few bad giveaways on defense that led to early chances on both sides. Santa Fe Wanderers looked crisp in possession but could not get anything going in the final third of the pitch. Sunflower State on the other hand, looked sloppy on the ball to begin with but were they showed their quality very soon.
After an extended period of time played in the middle third, there was a change of possession on the wing that led to SSFC getting in behind the Wanderer’s defense, Nick McDonald beat another man and was through on goal when he was taken down in the box. The whistle blew and he took the penalty, coolly slotting it home to the bottom left corner.
1-0 Sunflower State FC
The Wanderers wanted to get back in the game quickly and pushed up the field after the restart to try and find and equalizer, but another give away led to a fast break the other way for SSFC. Nick McDonald once again found himself in front of goal and this time from open play made it 2-0 SSFC.
2-0 Sunflower State FC
After this, SSFC began take control of the game. They played the ball around without too much stress despite the Wanderers employing the high press to try and win it back. And for the rest of the half it looked simple for them. That is until the high press payed off and Santa Fe Wanderer Fwd Dominic Harrington picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch. He was closed down quickly by SSFC but before he could be dispossessed, he ripped a wonder strike from 35 yards out that surprised Goalkeeper Sam Glass. Call it luck or skill, it was needed for the Wanderers to get back in the game.
Halftime: 2-1 Sunflower State FC
SSFC quickness in transition from defense to attack caused Wanderer defenders to make split decisions that led to mistakes. It could have easily been 3 or 4-1 at the break. I think they knew this and came out of halftime firing on all cylinders.
The Wanderers looked dangerous. Their passing started to pull apart Sunflower State and there were a few chances that could have easily tied it up. The best of which was after Santa Fe won a free kick right outside the 18. The shot itself careened into the Sunflower State wall but the Wanders recovered the ball on the wing and while the cross was blocked by GK Sam Glass, it led to a chance right at the six. The Wanderer forward tried to elevate the rebound over the GK but instead it skied over the bar. After Sunflower State weathered the initial storm, the game entered a lull and some tired legs began to show.
With about 10min left to go in the game, the Wanderers found a second wind and started to press once again to find an equalizer. This led to a more open game with both sides getting some good opportunities. With a few minutes left there was an incident where there was a foul not called when a wander winger took down a SSFC defender. This led to a confrontation and a stoppage of play by the referee where players were needed to be restrained by teammates. No players were ejected, but the break in play allowed Sunflower State to compose themselves and hold off the Wanderers until the final whistle blew.
Final Score: Sunflower State 2, Santa Fe Wanders 1
Game 2: Recap
The second match of the Heartland Super Cup had Sunflower State FC (SSFC) facing United Kansas City Football Club (UKCFC).
The match started with a relaxed tone that matched the Saturday afternoon weather. It was only the 7’ when a SSFC throw-in from the left wing led to a race down the touch line between Trevor Cissell and a defender, who initially got a touch on the ball, but Cissel was able cut a pass square to the lethal feet of Nick McDonald.
1-0 Sunflower State FC
After that the flood gates opened… Nic Jaimes found his way up the pitch after the first goal, and crossed the ball, making an easy tap-in for Nick McDonald to score again.
2-0 Sunflower State FC
Another switch of play led to some further poor defending, Matt Carey found himself alone in the box and beat the keeper. He hit the post and Girma Kassa was there for an easy tap in.
3-0 Sunflower State FC
At this point, SSFC could breathe easy. Their defending looked strong and even though UKCFC found some space down the wings at the end of the first half, they did not have the organization to make the possession pay off. In the 39’ Mitch Moncada used his speed to beat 2 defenders, keep his composure, and coolly finish to get his first goal of the tournament.
Halftime. SSFC 4 – 0 UKCFC
Any spectator could see there was a difference in quality between the two teams. United Kansas City FC certainly had some quality players, but they could not put together attacking plays to trouble the SSFC backline. In the 58’ Nick McDonald scored his third to complete his hat trick.
5-0 Sunflower State FC
After a red card was given to a UKCFC defender, SSFC adjusted their strategy to keep possession, pass it around the back, and save some energy. After a few good passes, there was a run up the field by Nic Jaimes and a long switch of play forced the UCKFC into another mistake. Jaimes found the back of the net.
6-0 Sunflower State FC
Shortly after, UCKFC wins the ball at mid field and two direct passes found their forward who got into the goalkeeper’s territory with a little bit of space and put the ball past SSFC goalkeeper.
6-1 Sunflower State FC
This goal gave UKCFC a shot of energy and they once again drove down the pitch to get a shot off. It was not on target but the intent was there. This led to a goal kick for SSFC, Jose Camberos distributed to the left, and quickly Javi Garcia was seen making a run down the right and a perfect switch was laid out in front of him. Garcia beat one defender and squared it to a waiting Ben Wilhoit who roofs it to regain the six-goal advantage. Garcia has averaged 10 minutes of playing time this season but has 3 assists in 4 games.
7-1 Sunflower State FC
The final whistle blew and that ended the second game of the tournament. SSFC will feature next in the Heartland Super Cup on July 18th against Fountain City FC at 9:30am at Platte County High School, followed by a second game later that evening also at Platte County High.
Can’t wait that long for more action!? Catch SSFC in friendly matches on July 5th and July 11th streaming and in person. (check website schedule for details)